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How to Make Distilled Water for Drinking at Home – Benefits & Costs

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Head into any gas station and you’re likely to pay $1.50 or more for 20 ounces of water. Some of this water is labeled “pure,” but such a distinction can be misleading. It might be spring water, it might have been purified by reverse osmosis, or it might have been steam distilled.

Not only is bottled water more expensive per ounce than gas, it’s also bad for the environment. In fact, according to Mother Nature Network, bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste each year. All this plastic takes 47 million gallons of oil to produce, and only 20% of these plastic bottles are ever recycled.

Your best option? Stop wasting money on bottled water. Pick up a reusable water bottle, and fill it with perfectly pure, steam-distilled water that you distill yourself.

What Is Steam Distilling?

Many people don’t know they can easily steam distill water at home. Steam distilling is the process of boiling water in an enclosed container in order to capture the steam and reliquify it in a connected container. As the steam rises, it’s collected in a separate glass or plastic container. When the water in the first container has been boiled entirely away, all that remain are the minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants that were in the water.

The water that fills the second container is nothing but 100% H2O, with zero contaminants or minerals. Once you’re ready to make another gallon, simply clean out the minerals and chemicals that were left in the distiller, fill it with water again, and turn it on. In five to six hours, you’ll have another gallon of perfectly pure water.

Why Drink Steam Distilled Water

Why Drink Steam Distilled WaterMy family is genetically predisposed to get kidney stones. I got them as a teenager, but I’ve since learned to modify my diet so I don’t develop them. However, when we moved to our first home five years ago, I developed kidney stones within three months. A CT scan in the emergency showed plenty of the hard stones lurking in my kidneys.

A doctor told us it was probably the water, which was highly calcified in my new town. So I started buying steam-distilled water to keep all those minerals out of my body. But at $0.88 a gallon, it was an expensive addition to the grocery bill – especially since my husband and I both drink almost a gallon a day. And I hated using all that plastic.

Eventually, we researched steam distillers online, and finally bought a Nutriteam Countertop Distiller. After we made our first gallon, we discovered that the doctor was right: There was a ton of white powder left at the bottom of the distiller. This was very likely the debris that had caused my kidney stones.

Advantages

  1. Saves Money. If you don’t want to drink your tap water, distilling it at home is much cheaper than buying bottled water.
  2. Convenient. Before we purchased our steam distiller, we had to go to Walmart once a week for water (since they had the cheapest price). I didn’t like going because it was one more stop we had to make – and lugging around a dozen gallons of water in wintertime is just not fun. Now we simply distill two gallons of water each day right in our kitchen.
  3. Healthy. Steam-distilled water is completely pure; if you’re worried about chemicals or minerals in your water, you can eliminate these concerns with steam distillation.
  4. Great for Emergencies. If your tap water is tampered with, or your town goes under a “boil water” advisory, you’re covered. Steam distillers purify any type of water, including water filled with mud or even hazardous waste. As long as you have access to electricity or a generator, you have a source of safe, drinkable water.

Disadvantages

  1. Extra Work. Though minimal, there is some extra work involved in steam distilling. You need to clean out the distiller, and over time the steel canister can become crusty (at least, mine did). However, most distillers come with a rust-removing cleaner, and it’s straightforward and easy to do.
  2. Upfront Costs. Steam distilling costs money, especially up front. There are monthly costs too, as it takes electricity to run the distiller, and your break-even point could be years out if you don’t regularly make use of your machine.

Disadvantages Steam Distilled Water

The Costs of Steam Distilling

1. The Distiller
First, there’s the steam distiller itself. On Amazon, the distiller I purchased sells for $219, which is not cheap. It comes with a plastic collection tub, but if you want to upgrade to a glass collection jar (to avoid any chemicals leaching into your water from the plastic), this costs an additional $45.

Here’s the good news though: While I can’t speak for every steam distiller out there, I can tell you with certainty that the Nutriteam distiller I bought is worth every penny. We’ve operated this distiller for 6 to 12 hours per day for the past four years. It has never broken or given us any trouble. So far, four years of perfect operation has broken the cost down to $54 per year.

2. Electricity
There’s also the cost to run the distiller. My distiller uses 2.9kW of electricity to make one gallon of water. I pay $0.09 per kW, and it takes around five to six hours to distill one gallon. So it costs me around $0.29 to make a gallon. However, I was paying $0.88 per gallon at Walmart, so that’s a significant difference.

Breaking Even

My estimate, based on what we spent upfront and monthly on electricity versus how much we were spending at Walmart on water, is that it took us around 10 months to break even. But that was several years ago, so the steam distiller has more than paid for itself since.

Final Word

If you’ve never tasted steam-distilled water before, you should buy a few jugs at the grocery store to make sure you like it. Steam-distilled water is different because it’s completely pure. Most other waters, even “pure spring water,” have a distinct flavor because they contain trace amounts of minerals.

Personally, I love the purity of distilled water because I know I’m not getting any minerals or chemicals I’m not supposed to. It’s just pure water, and to me, all other water tastes strange now. I haven’t had a kidney stone since I began steam distilling, and I don’t think I will again.

Do you distill your own water? If not, have you ever considered it?

(photo credit: Bigstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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